Major Afghanistan Peace Talks; Spoilsport Russia; Wartime Sexual Abuse in the Pandemic

This Week @ the UN: summarizing the most pressing issues facing the organization.

by Ivana Ramirez. Read more on PassBlue.

Children of the St Clare Orphanage in Juba, South Sudan
Children of the St Clare Orphanage in Juba, South Sudan
  • Spokesperson’s briefing: The eruption of La Soufrière volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has left the entire population of 110,000 people without clean water and electricity. The UN and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency have mobilized water and sanitation hygiene supplies and provided food, cash distribution and technical advice. In addition, $1 million in aid from the Central Emergency Response Fund was released to the country. Our interview and podcast episode in November 2020 with the country’s ambassador to the UN, Inga Rhonda King, offers insights into the Caribbean island nation, which is an elected member of the Security Council.
  • In response to questions to clarify the UN secretary-general selection and appointment process, the deputy spokesperson for the president of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, said there was one candidate and six applicants. Amy Quantrill also gave details of Bozkir’s current trip to Turkey, Qatar and Azerbaijan, including a visit to Turkey’s southern province of Hatay to meet with Syrian refugees and visit the UN cross-border humanitarian operations. The mandate to renew the crossing will be voted on in the Security Council in July, but Russia is vowing to close the last aid channel against the advice of UN humanitarians.
  • Spokesperson’s briefing: Turkey, Qatar and the UN are convening a conference from April 24-May 4 between the representatives of Afghanistan and the Taliban, with Turkey hosting the meeting in Istanbul. An objective of the Istanbul Conference on the Afghanistan Peace Process is to help “the negotiating parties reach an end to the conflict,” the UN announced.
Graph showing the levels of civilians killed or injured from 2010 to 2021 in Afghanistan
Graph showing the levels of civilians killed or injured from 2010 to 2021 in Afghanistan
  • Spokesperson’s briefing: A reporter asked: “It’s April now, and is there any date when you expect that there will be announcements for whether the high-level week in September at the General Assembly will take place virtually or in person? It would seem that people have to make hotel reservations or cancel them. And is that something the SG would announce or the PGA (President of the General Assembly)?”
  • Response: “The format of the General Assembly will be decided upon by Member States. I’m not aware of any decision being taken now. . . . and I think it’s understandable, given the fluidity of the general situation with COVID around the world. It’s not just what’s going on in New York. It’s what’s going on in the world. But at this point, there’s nothing to announce.”
  • A reporter also asked what are the plans to allow UN staff to return to work at the New York City headquarters? Response: “There’s no actual date. . . . I think we have to wait a few more weeks until, I think, we see a greater proportion of staff having been vaccinated.”
  • Tweets from a Politico reporter, below, and CNN report on the latest round of Biden administration nominees for high-level State Department posts. These include Molly McPhee for the Africa bureau and Michele Sison, a former US-UN ambassador and the US envoy in Haiti, to lead the Bureau of International Organization Affairs.
  • Cindy McCain is rumored to be Biden’s pick to run the World Food Program, succeeding David Beasley, who was a governor of South Carolina.
  • Kelley Currie, a former US ambassador at the UN mission and expert on Myanmar, published an informal op-ed in the Politico Global Translations newsletter on three actions the UN and other global players can take to “create off-ramps from Burma’s current deadly path.”
  • A recent TEDxImperial College event titled “Impetus, Force That Drives Change,” features Franz Baumann, a former UN official who is a visiting research professor at New York University, focusing on the global governance of climate change and the 2030 sustainable development agenda. He has contributed op-eds to PassBlue. (About 1:11:40 in the video.)

Independent Coverage the United Nations. A project of The New School’s Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs, supported by the Carnegie Corporation.